The Power of Yes



The Power of Yes; Removing the Stumbling Block

We love blog posts that boast how you can “Change Your Life in 5 Easy Steps” or ones that offer us “10 Steps for Finding Happiness”. And as a blogger, I have written a handful of articles offering concrete, practical advice such as Ten Inclusion Mistakes Even Good Educators Make.

But I’d be misleading you if I offered to just hand you the steps to making your school or synagogue more inclusive. Even if I told you the steps that my congregation followed, you can’t just wrap our process up with a bow and plunk it down into your community saying, “Ok, now we are inclusive”.

Why not? Because becoming an inclusive community is a process. It is a deliberate and intentional transformation. It is a work in progress.

And yet, there is one piece of solid, tried & true advice that I can offer.  Say yes. 

Say yes because far too many have said no. Far too many still say no. Some of them “get around to “yes” with a lot of pushing and prodding, but that just leaves everyone involved with lingering frustrations and a sense of wariness. 
Inclusive congregations say yes and mean it; Removing the Stumbling Block
Yes is powerful. 

Yes builds relationships. 

Yes demonstrates commitment. 

Say yes; then find the partners who can help you to figure it out.

From the day I stepped through the doors of Temple Beth-El almost sixteen years ago, I have led with a philosophy of “yes”. When I say, “Yes, we can meet your needs…please help me understand how to do that,” I enable families to trust me and to recognize that we are all on the same team. I am not suggesting that every request and potential accommodation can and will be met with “yes”, but by opening the door we set the stage for an honest and trusting relationship. It means that when something truly is not possible, we can speak about it calmly and realistically.

This has been the single most powerful secret to the success of my congregation. 

Far too many congregations promote themselves as “warm, welcoming and inclusive”. But often these are just the right words to put on brochures and websites. What separates congregations who are genuinely inclusive from those who say they are is their ability to say yes and mean it. These are the congregations who recognize that inclusion isn’t a committee, that inclusion isn’t a program and that inclusion isn’t a classroom in the school. The congregations that do it right recognize that inclusion defines them, it is part of who they are.

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